Michael Flynn was the first significant staff departure
Departures have included Trump's chief of staff and press secretary
President Donald Trump’s first year in office was rocked by a barrage of high-profile staff departures – an exodus that is expected to continue during his second year once aides who are determined to make it one year on the job have satisfied their goal.
Michael Flynn, who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser, was the first significant departure of the Trump administration. He served in the job for less than a month, and recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the former Russian ambassador to the US.
The list only grew as the year went on – including, but not limited to: the deputy chief of staff, the first communications director, the press secretary, the chief of staff, the second communications director, the chief strategist, a deputy assistant, a third communications director, the FBI director, the deputy national security adviser, the director of Oval Office operations and the director of communications for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison.
Several staffers are expected to announce their exits in the coming weeks, and chief of staff John Kelly has told several of them to decide by the end of the month whether they intend to leave or stay. Asked who in the White House was considering leaving their post in the coming weeks, one staffer quipped to CNN, “Who isn’t?”
Here’s a list of the highest-profile West Wing casualties:
Michael Flynn – national security adviser
Flynn lasted less than a month on the job. He is the first Trump administration official to be charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
Katie Walsh – deputy chief of staff
Walsh left her White House post after just two months on the job. Her position wasn’t filled for several months until now-chief of staff John Kelly entered the West Wing, putting Kirstjen Nielsen in the role. Nielsen left to replace Kelly as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Mike Dubke – communications director
Trump’s first official communications director submitted his resignation in May. He was a last-minute addition to the administration following the resignation of Jason Miller, who served on Trump’s campaign. Dubke’s appointment came with some criticism, as CNN reported at the time that some inside the White House said they would have preferred a campaign veteran.
Sean Spicer – press secretary
Spicer, who became must-see TV and was mercilessly mocked by NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” resigned amid communications office tumult. His tenure was marked mostly by his gaffes, including using the phrase “Holocaust centers” and making false claims about inauguration crowd sizes.
Reince Preibus – chief of staff
The former Republican National Committee chairman became the shortest-serving chief of staff in White House history after he was driven out of the administration after just six months and replaced by then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Anthony Scaramucci – communications director
“The Mooch” was removed from his post as communications director after just 11 days on the job after he accused Priebus of leaking damaging information about him in a profanity-laced interview with The New Yorker.
Keith Schiller – director of Oval Office Operations
Schiller’s departure – which was for personal reasons – was noteworthy because of his years of loyalty and proximity to the President. Schiller was among a handful of aides from Trump’s previous life as a businessman to follow Trump into the White House. It was Schiller who delivered James Comey the letter informing him he was fired.
Steve Bannon – chief strategist
Though the White House initially insisted Bannon’s departure was a mutual decision, Trump later declared he fired him because he had become an ineffective “lighting rod” after he made disparaging comments about Donald Trump Jr. in Michael Wolff’s new tell-all book.
Omarosa Manigault Newman – communications director at the White House Office of Public Liaison
Omarosa, the former “Apprentice” star with a long history with Trump, left the White House in December. Though her role was ill-defined, her departure was significant because it highlighted how few African-Americans hold senior positions in the West Wing.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Kevin Liptak, Dana Bash and Dan Merica contributed to this report.